On Friday, June 24th, Seekonk Speedway’s “Fast Friday” program resumed for the first time since the season premiere, following two weeks of rain which cancelled the entry level series.
By this point in the season, most believed that many of the questions entering the season would be answered, but due to the unfortunate timing of inclement weather, the series frontrunners were forced to wait until the summer stretch to emerge as favorites. In the SYRA 600s, Chase Belcher survived a late charge from Curtis Rolando to pick up the feature victory. Branden Dion earned his first victory in the SYRA 750s, while Rich Sprague grabbed his first career victory in the Sport Fours. The New England V6 Modifieds presented by C.D.G Industries made their first appearance of the season at Seekonk, as President Allan Rieser Jr. took the checkered flag in the evening’s co main event. In the nightcap, the Pure Stocks stole the show with racing that put the “action” in “The Action Track of the East.” Amid cautions for spins and a scary crash involving Earl Curtin, John Robidoux emerged once the smoke cleared with his first victory of the season.
The weather put a damper on the night before we could even roll the cars out for the heats. Eventually, the hour long mist subsided, and with help from the Sport Fours and Pure Stocks, the track was dried and the night began without any further ado.
Running out of order in an attempt to further dry the track, the Sport Fours rolled out of the tunnel for their pair of heat races first. In the first heat, the season premiere victor Ed Gould pulled away from pack and picked up right where he left off, with a win in the 8 lap heat. The second heat race was marked by a newcomer’s rise to the top. Previously, rookie Kyle Pacheco wowed the crowd with an impressive heat performance. This week, rookie Rich Sprague rocketed to the top of the scoreboard and won in his very first time in a Sport Four.
The Sport Four feature played out in similar fashion. Jewett City, Connecticut’s Chris Bissell had a strong run early, and jockeyed with Ed Gould and Rich Sprague for the top spot for most of the race. In the closing laps, Sprague made his way around the field and took the checkered flag, sweeping the heats and feature in a brilliant display of driving.
The SYRA 600s took to the track for a pair of heat races as well. In the opener, rookie Austin Blais guided his #28 mini cup around the Speedway with ease, leading all eight laps in an incident free heat over closest competitor Chase Belcher. In the second heat, Jason Enos stretched out a sizeable margin over the field on the heels of a great start, until Kiera Carpenter spun on the exit of turn two to bring out the caution after the conclusion of lap three. On the restart, Curtis Rolando passed Enos on the high side and battled door to door with Enos for the remainder of the race. Still running side by side on the final lap, Newport, Rhode Island’s Rolando edged ahead on the high side and put his name in the win column by less than a half a car length.
In the twenty lap feature, Austin Blais picked up right where he left off, leading nine of the first ten laps. Jason Enos hung tough battling for the lead, but after making contact with the leader on multiple occasions, trouble stuck the top two. On the exit of turn four, both Enos and Blais spun their mini cups to the apron on lap eleven. Just like in the prior heat race, a caution group Chase Belcher and Curtis Rolando to the front row, and just like in the heat, Belcher pulled away and maintained the lead despite a trio of spins by Kiera Carpenter, hanging on for his first victory of the season in front of Rolando, Shelby Donovan, Tyler Boudreau, and David Lougee.
The SYRA 750s, the slightly more powerful division of SYRA cars, graced the track for a pair of heats and a twenty lap feature as well. Many of the drivers from the 750 class composed the SYRA 600 class in 2010. This year, these same faces in new places such as Willy Sanchez, Branden Dion, and defending 600 champ Nick Lascuola look to continue their ascend up the Seekonk Speedway prospect ladder.
In the first heat race, pole sitter Christine Cavallaro led early on, but came into turns three and four with too much momentum and slid up the track, leaving enough room for Branden Dion to glide by and cruise home to the victory. In the heat race immediately following, Nick Lascuola immediately passed pole sitter Ashley Kuhn and led all eight laps en route to the checkered flag.
Nick Lascuola had some difficulties climbing through the field in the feature, but Branden Dion, who started in fifth, had little issues and passed Christine Cavallaro and Tylar Nailor to lead lap four. Dion’s car set the pace for the field and by lap fifteen he could see nothing in his rear view mirror. In dominating fashion, leading the final seventeen laps and acquiring his first taste of victory lane in the SYRA 750 class, followed by Ashley Kuhn, Nick Lascuola, Willy Sanchez, and Kaitlyn Donovan to round out the top five.
The New England V6 Modifieds presented by C.D.G Industries headlined the evening as the touring division, bringing with them an entry list of six. In both the heat and the feature, NE V6 Modifieds President Allan Rieser Jr. set the pace. In both races, scrums for the lead ensued between the 69 of Louie Maher, points leader Keith Caruso in the 11, and the 3 driven by part time driver and former winner Anthony Frissora. By the mid-point in each event, however, Rieser put his money where his mouth is and notched the victory in the series he promotes.
Without question, the pure stocks put up the best racing of the night. In the ten lap heat races, a pair of newcomers topped the charts. The first heat was won by rookie Jessie Melberg in the 32, maintaining a slight lead over Randy Moretti and Bill Chouinard. The second heat was won by another new face, the 13 of Robert Hinckley. Hinckley swapped the top sport with John Robidoux three times, along with Ed Flanagan Jr. and Nick Uhrig who battled up front. However, Hinckley held on to lead the final four laps on his way to picking up the win.
The scintillating action in the heats was amplified in the twenty five lap feature race. Out front, 3D Racing’s Ed Flanagan Jr. led the way followed closely with Jamie Burch and Dan Massa Jr. However, Massa made contact exiting turn four on lap three and spun his machine around to the apron to bring out the caution flag. On the ensuing restart, John Robidoux began his ascend from fourteenth to fourth to battle with Earl Curtin, Burch, Flanagan Jr., Derek DeMoura and Doug Benoit for positions in the top five. On lap 11, Doug Benoit slid his machine up the track and around, dropping from fifth to the tail end of the line. On lap 21, things took a scary turn for the worse in the battle for third. Earl Curtin, driver of the 55, launched into the turn three wall nearly head on. After freewheeling down the track, Curtin was struck in the driver’s side door by Nick Uhrig, season premiere winner and defending pure stock champion. During a lengthy red flag delay, both Curtin and Uhrig walked away from their totaled race cars, able to drive another day despite their hair raising misfortunes. Out front, John Robidoux held off a fierce charge from Randy Moretti and grabbed his first victory of the year to cap off an exciting night of racing, followed by Hinckley, Flanagan Jr., and Melberg.
The second edition of “Fast Fridays” featured both the thrills and spills of racing. Chase Belcher, Branden Dion, Rich Sprague, Allan Rieser Jr., and John Robidoux notched victories, refusing to let even Mother Nature rain on their parade.